Asobi Seksu - Fluorescence

Album cover
Dream Pop, Indie Rock, Shoegaze
Polyvinyl Records
Asobi Seksu
Fluorescence
Asobi Seksu - Fluorescence Review rating:
4
User rating:
Average: 4.3 (4 votes)

Artistic focus, at times, is a severely underrated quality when concerning a contemporary musician. This lack of regard has become even more apparent as rock music is starting to show her age. As in ones ability to pay homage has basically become an accepted measurement of quality. And in truth it should be. As there are really only so many notes (a lot) and only so many ways to arrange them (even more)-- yet in the here-and-now one cannot help but feel that, like, if it sounds good: what's the issue? This is not to say the tried-and-true method of copy popular band A en-route to record sales and money bags is acceptable. If anything a poor quality rip-off is viewed with even more disdain now than it was, say, ten years ago. But I feel, that in 2011, we've moved past the whole complete-originality-needed-for-escapism thing. That music can, and in fact sometimes should, hearken back to the "good ol'days." Whether this be through a set of guitars and a drum kit or a Korg board and sample deck. In the end music is there to illicit desired emotions from a listener and in reality if it can portray anything psychologically deeper than that said record has already more than paid for itself.

You may inquire: “What does this have to do with anything?” Well, when we consider a band like the Brooklyn based star-gazers Asobi Seksu, the idea of homage used as a route to individuality is less a talking-point and more a fucking mission statement. And while it is quite hard to find many bands that sound exactly like the frantic, sugary-sweet dream pop of Yuki Chikudate and James Hanna—the line between the band they play in and the bands they listen to is bulbous. This is not to say they're unoriginal, as it is quite difficult to pin down a singular influence to any Asobi record. Yet the likes of My Bloody Valentine, Slowdive, The Cocteau Twins, The Field Mice and Heavenly all ring true as comparisons. Though what has always made Asobi Seksu such refreshing artists is not only their blistering live shows, but the ability to take any myriad of dreamy-pop chord structures and washed-out gimmicks and turn them completely into their own. My Bloody Valentine doesn't come into question while listening to the frayed melodies of “Trails” or “Counterglow” as Yuki and Hanna take the reverb-drenched euphoria of Loveless and imbue it with endless pop hooks, jazzy drumming, tinges of freak folk, sixties surf-pop and glam rock all culminating into a distinct brand of rock music.

With their fourth proper LP, the Brooklynites trade in the soft, sleepy-headed tunes of Hush (2009) for a spirited form of punky dream pop more akin to their breakout record, Citrus (2006). Much like Citrus as well, the Japanese verses have returned and the album feels less like an exercise in avid fanboyism and more a graduated evolution of sound. Florescence and the sound Asobi Seksu now employ, grabs less from the likes of Slowdive and Cocteau Twins preferring to mine the succulent catalogs of a Sarah or K Records. Incorporating the primly coy twee pop of the eighties and nineties as much as their shoegazing forbears. Simply put: Florescence is the first time Asobi Seksu has made less a dream pop record and more a straight up indie pop record.

Again this is hardly a drawback as the record is still sufficiently transcendental---as all great dream pop albums should be. Yet the high-flying hooks of “Perfectly Crystal” and “Sighs” are too pristine even for the most dainty of shoegazers. “Leave The Drummer Out There” is an epic foray into avant-pop mixing multi-tracked vocals, a la the Beach Boys (or Panda Bear whichever you prefer), militaristic drumming and a post-rock song structure--culminating into a sensational near seven minute head-trip. While “In My Head," "My Baby" and “Deep Weird Sleep” evoke the same whimsical rapture and tote a similar pop abandon of Animal Collective circa Merriweather Post Pavillion. With “Trance Out” holding up the back-end as a glam-rock-by-way-of-Tokyo adrenaline rush of the highest order. Yet for all the possible outcries of legitimacy and lack of artistry, what has, and what seemingly always will matter the most with Asobi Seksu is: how good does it sound? Extremely catchy, unquestionably creative, emotionally arresting while superbly crafted, albeit somewhat derivative, yet far from one-note. Florescence is more proof that you don't always have to do something first to be one of the few who do it best.

1. Coming Up
2. Trails
3. My Baby
4. Perfectly Crystal
5. In My Head
6. Leave The Drummer Out There
7. Sighs
8. Deep Weird Sleep
9. Counterglow
10. Ocean
11. Trance Out
12. Pink Light

Asobi Seksu is an American dream pop band based in New York City. Their music draws influence from the shoegazing genre as well, and similarly uses a textured and effects-heavy vocal and guitar sound. The band consists of Yuki Chikudate (vocals, keyboards) and James Hanna (guitar, vocals).

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